Executive Chat with Rebecca Patt, SVP Development of Wray Executive Search
Featuring Sheri Miksa, President & CEO, Mazzio’s LLC
How did you get involved with Mazzio’s?
I was recruited to join Mazzio’s LLC as President and CEO at the beginning of 2014. What a great opportunity! I love that it is a well-known, regional heritage brand with a strong legacy and plenty of potential.
We started in 1961 as “Ken’s Pizza Parlor”, a single location opened by our founder, Ken Selby. Over time we evolved, and now we have our fast casual Mazzio’s Italian Eatery and Mazzio’s Pizza locations, both company-owned, and franchised, across 9 states, plus we own, operate and franchise a casual dining brand, called Oliveto Italian Bistro (with its own menu of distinctive food options, plus a great wine list/beer selection and a full bar). Having concepts in multiple segments (we also license Ken’s Pizza), presents a compelling opportunity for growth and expansion.
What do you most appreciate about working at Mazzio’s?
I love the passion and commitment of our people. We have industry-leading, low turnover numbers at both the management and hourly level. Whenever I meet a team member for the first time, I always ask, “how long have you been with us?” More often than not, they say 10 or 20 years – we have a number of people with over 30 years with our company! And many tell me we gave them their first job.
I also love the quality of our food; we have all-scratch kitchens in both concepts. We make our dough and sauce fresh every day, with the highest quality ingredients. People have been counting on us for that commitment to quality for over 55 years. Lastly, one of the things I appreciate about working here and leading this team is their openness to change and to new perspective; that has been gratifying.
I have a history of leading transformations and turnarounds, and at Mazzio’s, was brought on as “the professional management.” Since my arrival, we’ve considered a number of new ways to achieve continued success, and we’ve added systems and processes to make it easier to consistently deliver a high quality, excellent experience, no matter how or where our guests enjoy Mazzio’s great food.
What are you most excited about creating at Mazzio’s for the future?
Our future is about sustaining an enduring legacy brand and leveraging it for future growth. We want people to continue to say, “I’m proud to work here. I’m excited about the future we are creating. I love coming to work every day, and I’m fired up about how we “give back” in our communities.”
And while a fan favorite for 50+ years, Mazzio’s has also been a springboard for innovation and for responding to how guests’ preferences for eating out or bringing in great food, have evolved. During my tenure, we’ve added a full line of catering options. We recently added Mazzio’s signature Fresh Salad Bar, featuring our world-famous Ranch Dressing to the catering menu.
We’ve expanded ordering options to include online and mobile ordering, and we’ve continued to adjust our menu to bring our guests those craveable handmade pizzas, pastas, hot hoagie sandwiches, starters, salads, Calzone Rings®, and Wing Run® Wings they’ve always loved for dine-in, carryout, or delivery. Plus, we feature our unlimited weekday lunch buffet and our always available Fresh Salad Bar in our dine-in locations.
What do you look for when you recruit people for your team?
I look for passion for this unique business we are in, the restaurant industry. I’ve been in it for over 30 years, leading both publicly-traded and privately-held organizations. It takes a certain kind of person to be successful. That “fire in the belly” that keeps one driven to achieve, to drive results, to want to offer guests special places to enjoy distinctive, craveable products they can’t get anywhere else, and to create a place where people (our restaurant team members, our franchisees and our Restaurant Support Center team) want to come and stay because they want to be part of something great. These are the traits that make a winner in our business. I also seek people with that “continuous improvement” mentality; who constantly innovate and ask themselves “how do I make tomorrow’s experience (i.e. for our guests, team members, and franchisees) better than today’s?”
What is a quirky, little-known fact about you?
My first management job was running a hotel on the top of the Alaska Pipeline, where the oilfield workers lived who were building the processing facilities for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Mind you, this location was above the Arctic Circle! I actually finished my undergraduate degree (in Psychology) while working full time and left “the North Slope” to get my MBA at Stanford.
Want to recruit top talent for your restaurant executive team? Contact Rebecca Patt at Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org.